Monday, July 16, 2012.
Joe Southwick has his eye on a near-term prize, hoping to defend his home run derby title this Saturday night in Boise State football’s fifth annual charity softball game, the player-organized event now dubbed the Bronco Football Summer Classic. Of course, the prize Southwick really has his eye on is Boise State’s starting quarterback job, with the battle against Nick Patti, Grant Hedrick and Jimmy Laughrea resuming in less than three weeks. The Broncos, who have to replace Kellen Moore, are not alone in their search for a new star. Five of BSU’s opponents this season have to do the same thing.
The biggest name among the vanished is Kirk Cousins at Michigan State, who the Broncos play right out of the gate in 46 days. We'll get to know the name of apparent heir Andrew Maxwell over the next seven weeks. Them's big shoes, kinda like Kellen's. Southern Miss has to replace a guy the Broncos saw down south in 2008, Austin Davis. That's a big deal, because some see the Golden Eagles as BCS-busting material. Ryan Lindley's gone from San Diego State, to be replaced by Oregon State transfer Ryan Katz. You also have Bryant Moniz and Pete Thomas having departed from Hawaii and Colorado State, respectively.
The established starting quarterbacks among Bronco opponents include Miami of Ohio’s Zac Dysert, who got into the game against Boise State on the blue turf in 2009. BYU brings in Riley Nelson, who displaced Jake Heaps with the Cougars last year (Heaps ended up transferring to Kansas). Some prognosticators think returning starter Derek Carr is going to flourish in Fresno State's new offense. We'll see. Brett Smith is getting a lot of preseason hype going into his sophomore year at Wyoming. There’s B.J. Holbrook at New Mexico and Caleb Herring at UNLV, both with massive hills to climb. And Cody Fajardo, who missed the Boise State game last year with an injury, tries to become the new Colin Kaepernick at Nevada.
Safe to say this hasn’t happened before. Two visiting quarterbacks hitting the blue turf this season have played Boise State in Bronco Stadium before—for different teams. Nelson was a true freshman at Utah State way back in 2006 before going on an LDS mission and then transferring to BYU. Nelson was 6-of-10 for 40 yards with an interception that day but did rush for 45 yards. Katz faced the Broncos as a Beaver in the main event on the blue turf the night ESPN College GameDay came to town in 2010. He was 12-of-26 for 159 yards and a touchdown and was sacked four times. Katz was beaten out by Sean Mannion last year at OSU and opted for San Diego State.
Halfway through July, and the Boise Hawks have 20 losses. Vancouver took them there with a 5-4 decision last night. The Hawks had rallied in the middle innings to take a 4-3 lead, but they couldn’t hold it. The Canadians were spurred by Matt Newman’s second home run of the night in the sixth inning—then they scored the winning run on a Willengton Cruz wild pitch in the seventh. Boise had the winning run at the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but Lance Rymel hit a bang-bang liner to Vancouver first baseman Jordan Leyland, who backhanded it and instantly stepped on the bag for a game-ending double play. The Hawks open a three-game series against the Yakima Bears at Memorial Stadium tonight.
Boise State golfer Taeksoo Kyung Kim (you can call him T.K.) has taken a major trophy in his adopted state. Kim, a senior-to-be from Wailuku, Hawaii, won the Idaho Men’s Amateur by one stroke yesterday at SpurWing. Kim shot a one-under 70 in the final round to hold off a charge by Moscow’s David Nuhn, a former University of Idaho golfer who carded a four-under 68 yesterday. Kim’s Bronco teammate, Jordan Skyles, had led the tournament after the first two rounds. Skyles shot a three-over 74 yesterday and finished third, two strokes back.
Troy Merritt made the cut Friday at the Web.com Tour’s Utah Championship, but it was downhill from there for the former Boise State star. Merritt was in good shape Saturday until recording a bogey and double-bogey over the final three holes to come in one-over at 72. In the final round yesterday, Merritt carded five bogeys and nary a birdie in shooting a 76 and finishing second-to-last among those who played the weekend. He earned just $1,347 but has made four straight cuts after missing seven in a row.
It was a cooler than usual Exergy Twilight Criterium Saturday night in Downtown Boise, if only because of the rare showers that rolled through to temper what had been a 97-degree day. It was a very agreeable evening for the thousands lining the streets—and for the cyclists. Australian Hilton Clarke won his second Twilight Criterium, and Boise transplant Kristin McGrath, riding for host club Team Exergy, was the women’s champion. It was briefly disagreeable, though, as race officials initially upheld a protest of McGrath’s victory by runnerup Alison Powers. But McGrath was ultimately confirmed the winner.
Before I end today, I want to make mention of the recent passing of Boise attorney and longtime Boise State football fan Tom Munson. His memorial service was held Saturday and was a tribute to his unique personality. As noted by speakers, Munson could talk (and talk) in depth about politics, philosophy, music and more. But many conversations inevitably ended with the state of Bronco football. He could tie eras together, from Don Hutt to Cedric Minter to Kellen Moore. Munson wrote a blog called “Munson’s Gazetta” on popular BSU fan website OBNUG.com. He even had a verb coined in his honor there, “munson’d,” that made it into the Urban Dictionary. I met Munson when he moved in down the street from me in high school—and promptly introduced me to “Born To Be Wild” by Steppenwolf. R.I.P. my friend.
This Day In Sports…July 16, 2009:
The most successful coach in Idaho Stampede history resigns to take an assistant’s spot with the NBA’s Sacramento Kings. Bryan Gates, who didn’t play basketball as a student at Boise State, rose from a job as an unpaid intern under Bobby Dye during the Stampede’s first season in 1997-98 to become the team’s head coach in 2006. Gates had a three-year regular season record of 100-50 and won the D-League Coach of the Year award in his first two seasons. More importantly, he guided the Stampede to their first D-League championship in 2008.
(Tom Scott hosts the Scott Slant segment Sunday nights at 10:30PM on KTVB’s Sunday Sports Extra and anchors five sports segments each weekday on 93.1 The Ticket. He also served as color commentator on KTVB’s telecasts of Boise State football for 14 seasons.)